Monthly Archives: September 2009

Two Broken Rods, two limits of fish, what more could you ask for? 9/21/09

I’d met up with Charles W. at a birthday party on Sunday and he mentioned that he’d like to head out to fish for Coho as my reports have been very good and that the fish were chrome bright and especially tasty. We decided to bust out of town on the 5:40 ferry and make our way towards the 101 en route to the beach in time for the outgoing tide. The saying that the early bird gets the worm definitely wasn’t the case for today. We probably would have done better by sleeping in and heading out around 8 am.

Since the tide was still in when we hiked down to our spot, and didn’t see much activity, we decided to explore another location to the West for clues on where these fish were hiding. After finding the public access trail and walking for several hundred yards, it became evident that there were no fish in that section of the river.

We decided to high tail it back to our first location and wait out the tide change. I really like to fish this area on the low low tide, especially two hours before the low and two hours post low, on the flood. It pushes the fish in waves, and the incoming has been predictably good. Once the tide lowered the fish were on the move and I almost immediately picked up a nice 10+ lb buck. And then shortly after another buck, but smaller of around 8 lbs.

Charles was having a bit of a more difficult time, and then it happened. Just as he went to make a cast, the tip of his Sage XP folded in half and blew up. He was looking around wondering what’d happened and I told him “hey, you’re rod broke”. He was like “HUH?” What a time for this to happen, just as schools of fish were swarming around. I gave him my keys and told him to make the mile long hike back to the truck and grab my backup rod and rush back ASAP.

Once he got back and re-strung up with the new rod, the fish were all over the place. I made a few casts, and then wham-O I had a nicer hen that put a decent bend to my GLX Classic 8 wt. I thought it had it under control and then SNAP!!!! My rod taco’d like a toothpick at the second section closest to the handle. DARN! Those were the exact words that came out of my mouth, but my immediate thoughts were that this was God’s way of making me suffer by watching my friend fish the rest of the day with my rod. That wasn’t going to be an acceptable option, so I thought of piecing one of the sections of Sage to the GLoomis, which didn’t work since the Loomis rods have smaller diameter graphite. What I did end up doing was taking the 3 pieces from the XP and the top two sections of the GLX and putting them together at the break of the GLX. Surprisingly, it worked! The new Frankenstein of a rod was equivlant to a 11’6″ switch rod. I made a couple of false casts and decided to continue fishing with the mating.

The action was all jacked up, due to the extra length, but also the action of the two different rods. First of all, it was heavy and my wrist and arms felt it bey the end of the day. Secondly, it felt odd, with a softer and heavier bottom section of the XP and the fast action of the tip top.

I proceeded to catch more fish with the new creation, but I can tell you that it wasn’t the most pleasant or enjoyable casting, but it beats sitting on the shore, while watching wave after wave of fish pass by. I did try to fish with my full clear camo line from Cortland, which I don’t think Im completely sold on this as I prefer a little more of a sink and drop of my fly. I would fish a multi-tip line with a salmon (type3), yellow in the case of RIO, light blue braid for AIRFLO. I think that this puts the fly better into the fish zone and could have help hook and land more fish.

Chuck ended up catching his first salmon at this fishery as he has been trying to hook one of these beauties for a few years now. He was all smiles for the pic. Even though it was clear, warm, and very bright out, these Coho aren’t too bothered by the surroundings and are more influenced by the tides and the conditions.

This may be my close to my last outings to this beach as I’ll be looking for other opportunities and to learn new systems as to enhance my fishing experiences. In the meantime, I don’t mind sending the rod back for repair and having 4 nicely butterflied Coho fillets will be a good reminder of this years run.

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CoHo MoJo: 9/18/2009

It’d almost been a week since I visited the Oly Penn and I was wanted to feel a massive tug of a dime bright. Today, I invited Sun Y. and Tony K. along for the ride, a tight one that it was since we took the Toyota. We busted out of Seattle at 5 am, got to our location and made our way to the river. The tide was going out, but it didn’t seem to worry me too much as I thought there would be a push of fish once the sun mades its appearance. And push it was! Wave after wave, school after school. This action lasted until the incoming tide, and then we’d have enough and decided it was time to pack it up.

I set Tony up with my Scott A2 8 wt. Rio versitip, with salmon tip and Black Egg sucking leech. My set up was similar, but I wish I would have tried a full intermediate line, as I think it would have brought a few more fish to hand. We met up with some fellas who had came up from Tacoma and fished it for the first time. They really had a good time, easily limiting out and some big bucks that was worthy of a photo opp.

One pretty amazing thing that I found was a coughed up Sand Lance from the last fish I kept. In the three years that I’ve been fishing this fishery it was my thought that these fish weren’t feeding, but the fresh Sand Lance gave me hope that these fish are evolving. There has been a distinct difference the taste of this years fish, the color, and the texture as well. These fish would compare to the Neah Bay fish that we caught in last July, and were amazing good, fresh, grilled and even raw.

Im not sure when I’ll be back next, but you can bet that I’ll be thinking about it and wondering how I’ll be able to get back out for another stab at these wonderful dime brite fish.

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Smoked Salmon Extravaganza and more Pinks? 9/16/09

A local pub in West Seattle, Beveridge Place was the venue for yesterdays meeting of fellow fly fisherman to sample the different techniques of smoked Pink Salmon. Paul Dieter, Brad, Dave, Steve, Kevin, Lang, Mary, and myself met up with various samples. Among those were traditional wet and dry brines, those flavored with Coriander, Lavender and other herbs and spices. It was quite a spread with some nice local garden tomatos, some firery pickled chili peppers from Steve’s kitchen and local beers and some interesting Chinese cigarettes from Shanghai called Chunghwa.

We chatted about our experiences with the Pinks and awesome it was to be living in a place that allows us to eat our quarry just minutes from our homes. The conversations were stimulating, with times of laughter. Im glad that Mr. Dieter invited me out to join in and put a face to the online avatar.

Prior that day Jeff H. and I ventured to the Skykomish in search of the ellusive and lock jawed Coho. We attempted to unlock the combination, but even on this day it was tough to even heard up a Pink. I landed two bucks that chased my Cluster Candy. I much more enjoyed the pursuit of them in the salt, when they were fresh, bright and aggressive. It was a good change of pace, to enjoy the beautiful summer day and the low clear and cool water of the Skykomish.

Tomorrow, Im heading back to the Oly Penn in search of more Coho. My buddies Sun Y. and Tony K. will join me in the race where we’ll be chasing the Silver medal.

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Merry Christmas! CoHO HO! 9/13/09

Well, December is a few months away but I thought I had a few nice presents today as Mike R. and I busted out from the house at 4 am and made the drive out to the Oly Penn in search of Coho on the fly. Mike has never seen a Coho before let alone in its wild environment, so I shared with him my limited knowledge of their behaivour and what to expect.

Low tide was at 6:10 am, so I expected some fish to be shooting in with the incoming, as we finally made it to the water by 6:40. There was little activity, but I noticed that another fly fisherman had one on, so we decided to head down and see what the commotion was. Almost immediately, I picked off two hens, one about 8 lbs, the other around 6 lbs. As the tide came in, so did the fish. Two seals were around and they twarted the fish from progressing closer, so it was tough playing the waiting game, while watching the Coho splashing and running all over the bay.

Today I field tested the new G. Loomis Experience rod, that I picked up used, its a 9’6″ 3 piece 8 wt. Rio Clear Intermediate line, and Orvis Mach V large arbor reel. Good thing the rod was used and hopefully some good mojo, as it worked well for this mornings outing. I know I’ve been a good boy as Santa threw 4 Coho to hand, the largest was 12 lbs. Im gonna make dinner tonite with grilled Coho steaks, Roasted Red Potatos, and steamed broccoli. HO HO HO! This is like opening presents on the Christmas morning.

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I am REALLY done, well Done! 9/12/09

Mike R. and I originally planned to head out to the Oly Penn today but ended up being so wiped out from the day prior, that we decided to take it easy today, wake up late… for me at 4 am, and enjoy the sunshine. Since our plan was foiled for Coho, we leisurely decided to make another trek out to the Duwamish for some more Pink fun. Mike had a wonderful time the day prior and hooked his first salmon on the fly, so he was feeling the Pink Fever and was salivating at the idea of getting that pull like most addicts do.

We launched at 11:30 and got to our location by noon and set up and ready to fish. It was a slower start, but eventually the fish cooperated and it turned out to be another memorable day. The best part the day was when we returned to the launch and the guide from Three Rivers Marine asked how we did on the fly, since he and his client only had a few fishing buzz bombs. I said between 30-40 and he looked at us and drove off.

What else can I say, Im still loving this… and tomorrow we’re getting up at 3:30 and busting out for low tide and incoming fish. Stay tuned for the report. In the meantime, you can see how I like to fillet my salmon, butterfly style!

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Just like riding a bike: 9/11/09

We all have friends and today a college buddy and groomsman of mine came out to visit, as it had been over a year since our wedding. I’ve been encouraging Mike R. to come out to Seattle once he was finished up with graduate school and join me for some salmon fishing fun. Mike has been in school pretty much all his adult life, and back in the day, when we did spend some time together in Colorado, we enjoyed trout fishing on small streams and rivers. I taught Mike the basics of fly casting, but its been years since we fished together and likely ages since he casted a fly rod.

Mike had a big learning curve ahead of him because the dinky trout that we once caught were about to pail in comparison to the pull of a Pink Salmon. I set Mike up with a medium fast action St. Croix 9′ 5 wt. Imperial graphite fly rod, mated with Galvan T-5 and full clear intermediate Orvis wonderline in a 6 wt. category. I tied on my lucky Chenille Pink Turd conehead and off we went. The weather and the conditions were near perfect, clear skies, sunny day, but some wind on the motor out to my ‘secret’ spot on the Duwamish.

We left the launch around 11:30 am, and was surprised to find the spot void of any fisherman, but still many salmon jumping and porpoising in the area. I told Mike to take the wheel as I readied the anchor to que on the drop site. Not more than 10 minutes later I was into my first fish, then we were joined by our ‘friends’ in the ERC service boat. Im not sure what these guys do, but evidently they were being paid for ‘working’ and fishing. There were several other dock workers poised high on the platform that were throwing buzz bombs and I witnessed one snagging a fish by the tail, net it and walk away. As soon as we approached he turned his back and acted like he was invisible. The nerve of some people! There was a recent KOMO article on ‘Pink Fever’, how this run has turned many folks into poachers. I feel strongly about this and to have told everyone on my boat that there will be absolutely no foul hooked fish kept on board.

The day prior I’d taken my dad and one of his friends out to fish for Pinks. His friend is of the old school, and was probably used to keeping everything he hooked in the day, but he was alarmed by all the fished I netted and released. Saying that we should ‘save’ that one. I shook my head and won’t probably invite him back for another trip. I learned that you have to be selective on who you decide to share the company of your boat with, it could make for a real LONG day on the water. Wanting to not spend more time than I needed to on the water the day prior, I nabbed 4 fish for the fish box for dad’s friend, we didn’t keep any btw… and said we’re done and motored back to the launch after a couple hours on the water.

What I like about Mike is his laid back attitude and ability to take enjoyment from the little things in life. We kicked back after periods of hot fishing for a beer and smoked salmon break, we caught up with talk on life, future, careers, family. It was all good to have a close friend fishing with me again. Now, I still have my cousin that Im working on to get out and do the same, but I guess three kids will do that to any person.

Enough reminiscent talk, back to the report: After a little casting instruction, Mike was throwing about 30′ feet casts, nothing stellar for the beach but just enough for where we were fishing. I told him how to strip, how to hold the rod, setting, playing and landing the fish. His eyes bugged out when that first pull took the lines from his fingers, the rod bent and his first salmon on the fly rod, and probably ever was ON! As time went on, be both hooked more fish, at one point in time there were 5 other boats within our close proximity. I don’t mind that, since we’re able to space ourselves out, but for some reason these three gents in a yellow banana waterski boat showed up. I could tell they were Korean, but had no clue of what they were doing. They’d probably heard of the fever, and decided to take their Lake Sammamish boat out to the salt to give it a try.

First mistake, no anchor or rope. Second mistake, they had no etiquette for personal fishing space. They figured since there were other fishing boats around, they’d free drift with the tide into everyone elses lines. Third mistake, when they couldn’t effectively hook fish, and they saw Mike and I bring in fish after fish to hand they motored over thinking that we had a honey hole. In reality, there were fish about everywhere. It wasn’t the location, it was their poor technique and method of fishing that they weren’t able to hook fish. With their free drifting they came too close for my comfort and I laid into them. I said, “We’re anchored up here! There are fish all over the place, why do you have to be HERE???@?@@@@!!!!” The gent said, “sorry, we have to anchor”. I replied, then go to a place where you can tie up or stay away from our casting range!!!! I think they understood, but still had that envious look on their eyes as we continued on with the slaying. Mike and I were tired and sunburnt into the afternoon, we stopped took breaks and waiting until the schools came within close range of us. We threw more casts, caught more fish and when we decided to pack up the banana ski boat motored over and said: “You’re fly fishing?” I said.. “Yes”, and the driver said, “you did pretty good”, and I said “uh-huh” with a smirk on my face. I think they were hoping for a free handout of the limit we kept. Although I am pretty tired of the whole process, cleaning, filleting, brining, smoking I should’ve given my fish to those guys, but just because they were clueless to the whole matter of etiquette, I decided to give them to my parents instead as they have many friends in their church that appreciates fresh salmon.

We pulled out of the water by 5 pm, got home, ate some Dungees that I’d caught last week, washed everything down, cleaned fish and went out to dinner. Our plan was to fish on the Oly Penn tomorrow, but we were pretty wiped out, so we may sleep in a bit and get out on Sunday to do that instead, as the tide change is more favorable for a Sunday outing.

Going back to fishing and riding a bike, while it may have been a long time since Mike picked up a fly rod, once he did, it was like riding a bike, you might be rusty, but you will never forget.

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Pinks still pouring in?!??!?! 9/10/09

I thought I was done with fishing for the slimers but I’d been hearing about fising still around the east channel of the Duwamish, so I decided to head out today to give it another try. Today, Lisa R. joined me today as she’d been trying to connect with a Pink but hadn’t been successful. I’d done some intel the day before, driving over to Spokane Street, I saw the usual crowds of snaggermen, and other fishermen doing their usual jiggin’ and plopping. One very interesting note that I saw was fish jumping at the launch and all along inner Elliot as we headed towards the Duwamish. This indicated that there were still some straggling schools of fish and the run as we previously thought to be ‘done’ was still pouring in.

As we passed a bay, I notice alot of activity and we slipped in to have a closer look.

I dropped anchor in about 40 feet of water and moments later Lisa was onto her first fish. She was all smiles and excited to have finally landed her first Pink on the fly rod. I had strung up my St. Croix Imperial 9′ 5 wt., which is a great rod with medium fast action. It was lined up with the Orvis clear full intermediate line, in a 6 wt. that I believe is a good balance for beginners, so its easier to load the road and feel the cast. The reel was a Galvan T-5 bronze, that has seen its years of war scars, but still a fantastically smooth and ultra reliable reel.

It was a beautiful morning sunrise, followed by another epic day on the water. I probably broke my previous records of landed fish, but who was counting? Lisa did hook and land into the 20+ fish range, this girl CAN fish, and would put some of my fellow guy flyfisherman to shame. I won’t mention any names, but you know who you are!

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Rehab. Day: 9/8/09

A day without fishing, a guy can get alot of stuff done around the house and chores that was badly needed to get done. I stripped down the boats electrical and completely re-wired the tail lights and removed the stereo. The previous LED lights weren’t as water proof as I’d expected and slowly one by one, the LEDs went dead. Saltwater takes its toll on all things metal, so after each trip I methodically rinsed, flush, scrub, and hose down all my gear. This includes, flies, pliers, nets, rope, waders, boots, etc… Its alot of work but someone has to do it. I do it, because I enjoy having the vehicle to make that journey possible.

Things do break however, which is the downside of owning a boat. I guess things come in threes, because I had within the last three weeks all sorts of stuff go bad. First the tail lights, good thing I had the original set of Bulb units, which I wired up as a temporary fix until I could exchange the defective LED units. Second was the stereo… its supposed to be MARINE, but when the sound went dead, I suspected a fouled board or shorted with water contact, and the sound is no more. It powers up, but no sound. I contacted Cabelas, and they said they would replace it for no charge, SCORE! So, I spent some time taking out the dead unit, cleaning up some wiring and prepping it for return. Lastly, on Monday, when I picked up the boat from Elliot Bay Marina, upon re-installing the GPS/Sounder, two of pins on the main unit bent upon insertion and somehow damaged the unit. The screen was fluttering, and when I tried to power up. DEAD. Me and electrical, whats up with this boat???? No problem, I call up Lowrance, they give me a return authorization # and today the unit is off via UPS under warranty. Hopefully that is IT for any issues. Last week I repacked the hubs, re-tightened my trailer ball, checked the trailer for structural soundness and made sure that I had all the safety gear on board.

My body has been so sore from the physicality of fishing and boating. It sound easy and relaxing by most people, but all the moving, casting, fighting, netting, cleaning, filleting, brining, smoking, bending, lifting, hoisting all put my neck, back and arms into a state of needing more Ibuprofin. Today I decided to go get a massage, which was THE best decision that I made. I’d seen a place in Bellevue, they’d just opened up and often I’d see Asian guys in blue shirts waiving a big sign with $25 massage for 1 hour. I thought it was some kind of joke, but today I decided to give it a try. The place is called CHINA SPA, and they specialize in Chinese Reflexology of the feet. I was just thinking that it was going to be a glorified pedicure with foot massage, but turned out to be a nice relaxation and tension reliever. For $25, the massage included a 30 minute foot massage, and 30 minute body massage, with back, neck emphasized, just what I needed! ‘Linda’ was the only massuese without a client, this is all legit, with all the massage recliners set in the location in plain site. I wondered if she was going to be strong being a woman, but man, I was wrong.

This massage isn’t for the faint at heart, as its a full blown Shiatsu session that will leave you wincing, howling, and even tearing in pain. Often I wanted to ease up or stop, but at the same time, I wanted it to continue. It was just what I needed and totally worth the $25, plus I gave her $5 as a tip for taking all the knots out of my back and neck. This will be my regular monthly stop from now on, its a little luxury that I don’t mind spending.

I also took some time to report our Summer Crab catch cards as the Dungee season is now closed. It’d be a good season for us, with a couple dozen legal Dungees that came to our table and fed our family and friends. I had to also buy a new salmon catch record card, as I’d filled most of it with the Neah Bay trip and all the Pink fishing we’ve been doing. I guess I don’t mind throwing the state another $12 for a new card, but I should start charging for my smoked salmon instead of giving it away to help offset the fuel, launch, tackle, and broken electronics fund.

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Au Revoir Le Pinque: 9/7/09

I woke up this morning a bit anxious, thinking about the Tiderunner. I’d buttoned it up over that Elliot Bay Marina last night as the weather was just horrible to make the run over. I didn’t know what to expect this morning, as it’d be raining off and on, the rain at times was so hard at the house, that I woke me up during the wee hours. I don’t have an auto bilge on the boat and there was already some standing water when we left her, so the thoughts were racing in my mind on how much water I’d find and how much I’d have to manually purge before getting her back to the trailer. Missing the boat was like missing a child or your dog, its part of you and if something were to ever happen to her, it’d be like taking a piece of flesh from your body. Its a sickness, and I need to get back on track. Newly married, baby on the way, yet I’ve been putting in so much time on the water for these slimey creatures. Most people would think its madness! But thankfully, I have a loving and most understanding wife. And, I have time, the baby isn’t here… yet. So, I figure that I have to get it ‘in’ while I can or else I’ll be regreting it down the road.

After I picked up the boat, I motored out to pick up Jeff H. at Don Armeni and we busted out to the east channel of the Du-Whammy. The Pinks were still around, but nearly not the numbers I’d witnessed from a couple days prior when I fished it with my wife. We moved closer to Spokane Street bridge, and there were still ‘tons’ jumping, finning, splashing and swimming just feet away from the boat.

Patterns were key and clearly our staging patterns worked better than traditional ‘pink’ flies. Still a ton of fish around, several times they spooked and it reminded us of the Chums that stage in front of Chico. That nervous water puts all of them on the move. Probably saw a school of 150, flash in front of us when a guy in an orange pontoon boat rowed over. It was low tide and the fish were doing figure 8’s waiting for tonites high and the cover of darkness to slip on through to the other side. It was an incredible journey to fish and even better documenting this epic run on my blog. We started fishing the run in July at Neah Bay, then moved to Dash Point and when the run about tapered down, we moved to the north to locate fish. I’ve learned alot about their behaivour and how they liked their flies presented. After fishing in the salt, I’ll likely not target them in the rivers and leave them be to spawn. It will be amazing to think how this run will effect the whole ecosystem, Im sure there will be a surge in the Cutthroat population with all the eggs and fry entering and exiting the rivers.

As I washed down the boat, vacuum sealed some more smoked Pink, and boiled the last of the summer season crab, I still never had the opportunity to try a Pink grilled. Maybe I’ll have to get out one more time this week to give one a try. I reminisced this evening on how fortunate we are to be living in this place as there are probably a thousand guys across the country that have never seen a Pink let alone hooked into one. Life is good!

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Whats wrong with this picture? 9/6/09

Even though the weather looked frightful, I decided to check on the crab pots this afternoon and decided to make the run from Armeni to my lucky crab spot to pull two pots. The crabbing was lucky, but the run to get back was a bear. Jeff H. and I were being tossed around like a couple of rag dolls in the sound! The run over was a bit harrowing, but we were going with the wind waves, coming back was another story. For those that have boats, note to self, make sure you have all the safety gear and don’t try to be too gutsy and know when to say when. After picking up the pots the goal was to head back to the Duwamish for another stab at the pinks, but this was easier said than done. The wind and the water was so choppy that we had to find shelter in the marina at Elliot Bay Marina at Magnolia and try to wait the storm out. After debating on what to do, I opted to try to make the run by sticking close into the shoreline and timing the roller sets and gunning the motor to get some sort of ground on the relatively short run from West Seattle to Magnolia. We made it to the cruise ships, and then I called it and decided to make our way back to Magnolia and call the Harbormaster to see if it was ok to wait it out overnight. This isn’t the kind of report that I wanted to write, but its a good reminder of discernment and keeping property and life save. Who would think that Elliot Bay would be a harsh environment, but anything can happen and in a small craft like mine, I have to remember to take all the precautions in order to be safe.

The bright side of things is that the crabbing was fantastic, with more than two limits easily, I had to throw a bunch back! The 10 crab was a consolation for the $25 taxi cab ride back to my truck. I’ll be back tomorrow to snatch the boat from Magnolia and if the weather is good, take another stab at the Pinks.

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